Monday, February 24, 2014

For My Dad Who Loves the Wild One

If you've ever had a weekend that was the perfect blend of in and out, away and tucked in, important talks around take-and-bake pizza and overpriced but delicious fish tacos, then you understand how I felt right around 8 a.m. Sunday.

We spent 2 days in Indy with some family and it was just the thing we needed, the best kind of breather, with 50-degree temps to boot.

We woke up before we were ready on Sunday morning, after a night of too many House of Cards episodes and not nearly enough answers. Cory's big-shot smart phone buzzed - my "assistants" at Yahoo mail had sent out a mass email on my behalf, with questionable links and all the usual crud. This, after it made me change my password just a few weeks ago, to my great consternation because I'm just not a password-changing kind of girl, and go ahead and tell me I should be, but I'll let my recent post-change spamming speak for itself.

So, the whole way to church, my phone buzzed with friendly reminders from people I love. No one likes Sunday spam.

When my parent's number popped up, just as we were parallel parking, I laughed to myself. My dad, the one who swore he would never get the internet, has had it for a while now. He must have gotten my spam and I knew he'd be more alarmed than anyone.

I sat in church with Calvin leaned up against me, listening hard for an answer I needed, thankful for people who love me and keep me near to them, people who alert me when I'm buggering up their inbox, people who sit long with me around the kitchen table while I unburden my soul and snatch cobwebs from the back corners.

As it turns out, my dad didn't know about the spam.
As it turns out, he was headed into the ER for presumed appendicitis.
As it turns out, his appendix was fine, but not his colon, and he went into emergency surgery and came out with a wound they can't close for a week and a brand new set of complications.

He is fine. He will keep being fine.
He knows enough to keep relenting to the will of God, even across a stretch of months where things stop making sense.

They've had a rough season, but God never stops being good. Not ever.

So, this is another reason I blog.
Because though I'm 4 hours away and I can't be there quite yet, I can load up some pictures of his silliest grandson. Keisha can hold the Kindle up to his face and I'm sure he'll smile and he might even laugh, but I hope not, on account of the open wound.

What follows is the truest glimpse of my youngest child.

This is how he "plays".
It usually involves rogue rolls of tape or hand-knotted rat's nests of yarn.
Sometimes there is hardware or other contraband, such as markers.

I let him do this, because 1) it kept him busy for nearly an hour, right in my line of vision. And 2) it was harmless, so why not? (I'm trying to really pick my battles with this one.)

To my knowledge, he has never in his life played with the legos, blocks, cars, trains, puzzles, or other normal toys that fill our toy room.

He specializes in off-the-grid.

This appears to have been his life's work. His finest achievement to date.
"I like to decorate! Just like you!"

Every pen. Every pencil.
Hand-written "fancy letters" representing everyone in the family.

It just sort of worked, am I right?

Late Olympic inspiration hit, and he threw in a few gold medals.

The Artist!
(said in my best French accent)

This is just what we do.
Every day.

Every single day, he asks to paint.
Or he goes through half a bottle of glue.
Or he rubs colored glue sticks over the seats of all my kitchen chairs.
Or he tapes bubble wrap "curtains" to the windows.

I think he should totally be Meg's next craft helper. He'd be infinitely more entertaining than I was.

Oh, remember the pins?
We have a new method.
He starts with 5 pins each morning. He loses one for each serious infraction.
If he still has even one pin at the end of the day?
A sticker for his chart!

It is exhausting and I'm no good with complicated routines. I always forget. I'm scattered.

This was the result of his first full chart.
His first official play-date!
(His little friend kept telling him he was so funny.)

I'll be honest, I can only keep up with pins and charts and rewards and punishments so long. It's been nearly 4 years of this. It never ends. I'm not that on the ball.

When things are relatively peaceable, I just chuck it and enjoy a break.
It's probably not advisable.
You know, consistency and all that jazz.

All I know is, sometimes sanity trumps consistency.

Also, he has started making his own sticker charts, racing to the fridge and awarding himself stickers throughout the day. :)

Most good days also include some water.
Either a bath in the middle of the day, with a bunch of his beloved containers, or washing dishes.

Listen, he really likes to don hair pretties from time to time.
I usually fend him off, but on this day, I said yes and he was in Heaven.

(He's not supposed to use the sprayer! shhhh!)

This kid. He makes life so hard and so good.
He has changed the fabric of Shannan Martin in good ways and bad. I struggle most days to live my life happily, despite what he's throwing at me. It's a fight, but I'm gaining ground.

He has control issues. Anger issues.
He's a lasher-outer and it hurts my feelings, but I'm doing okay. I'm doing better than ever, I think.

It's hard to realize that success can mean detaching enough not to break down when a 5-year old hurls his best verbal ammo.

But this is life. This is the life I was given.

And in between all those rough places is this sweet little boy with a hard past, the one whose eyes melt me, the one who gives the best cuddles and can turn, just as quickly, into a dream boat of a guy, promising to love me forever and that he'll never move away, rewarding me with nightlights and stickers and stray pieces of tape, because I'm "the best" or "so good" or "such a love".

 Last week, he asked me to help him cut a heart.
Then he worked furiously for a while, and brought me this.

In that moment, I felt so safe and so loved.

One night later, he left me this love note.
I wasn't feeling quite as safe or quite as loved....  :)

I found it well after dark, after he was tucked in and sound asleep, which was probably to his advantage.

And the day had been bright enough that I unscrewed the lampshade and carried it down to Cory, where all we could do was shake our heads in stunned disbelief mixed with complete "of course he did".

Silas knows my name. He knows how to spell it and I have to believe that when he does spell it, it's almost always done in love.

Except for two nights ago when a simple "no" enraged him enough to grab his spiral notebook and jot down a hurried and angry correspondence to his foster mommy, letting her know what a mean mommy he has.

But that's really a whole 'nother story. And so our world turns.


Love you, Dad! We're praying for you and can't wait to see you soon.